Todd Christopher Orchard
58 West 200 South American Fork, Utah 84003
(801) 492-4197 · email@example.com
Teaching philosophy Instructor of Fine Art
Reaching for the AAh Ha!@
My first experience with teaching was both eye-opening and mentally exhaustive. My
failed attempts at humor (and a room full of silent staring students) made me question
my ability to express procedures I knew so well. I realized that I could not act as a
fountain of empirical knowledge, not only because of the subjective aspect of art, but
the difficultly of wielding language in an ideal manner. It has been said that Atalking
about art is like dancing about architecture.” I still find this true! To overcome the
confusing lexicon of art terms, I opt to practice less talk and more do. This is not to say
I remain silent; I utilize visual supports such as digital slides, master artist images,
personal demonstrations, and printed material to make the elements at hand visibly
clear. I also get involved as students work on projects. They respond favorably when I
am working closely, hands on with each individual, encouraging them to struggle,
giving gentle criticism and course corrections to foster their personal creative spark.
A beginning drawing class can be very dull for students when faced with rudimentary
drawing drills. It is critical that this essential skill become relevant to either art or non-
art students alike. Regardless of my persuasiveness, inspiration cannot be forced; it
must start with a moment of “Ah Ha!” Knowledge discovered by effort, is rewarded
with satisfaction and even joy. I have seen this breakthrough in moments of simple
comprehension, such as a student grasping the nuts and bolts of linear perspective.
Once they “get it” that intelligence becomes their own. Students often share these
educational moments with their peers, magnifying their command of the new skill as
they inadvertently become the educator. The excitement spreads to other aspects of
their studies, and if fostered, this “Ah Ha!” will become an enduring habit long after
they leave the academic setting.
As a teacher I find there are various things I can nurture in a student to promote his
educational development. These include technical artistic ability and a confident
mental attitude. An expectation of discipline in the studio is also indispensable. I have
developed my lectures, student critiques, and demonstrations to give a student simple
tools of visual articulation. These exercises in color mixing, value rendering, and
applicable technique are helpful to foster confidence. In color theory class we learn that
three primary colors plus black and white can be combined to create unlimited hues.
Similarly, the elements of color, value, and composition can be combined (in limitless
ways) to maximize individual expression. It is beneficial to students for me to
demonstrate how this might be done, but more important for them to “mix on their own
palette,” so to speak. Both my demonstration and their experimentation are needed for
this objective: Students will develop an instinctive proficiency with a variety of
responses to visual problem solving, rather than a scripted response or a stock solution.
I find student critiques challenging but enjoyable. I am able to ascertain if students are
regurgitating my words and views, or if they are searching their own minds to
intimately connect with the visual experience received from their eyes. The
eye/brain/mouth nature of the critique is in contrast to the eye/brain/hand responses of
painting and drawing. Critique compels both teacher and student to search for
applicable nomenclature which is so lacking that made-up words are permissible and
even encouraged. The mental exertion used to describe complex visual phenomena and
make judgments about artistic creations, whether it be their work or another=s, is
invaluable to enrich learning minds. I include this important discussion in all the
courses I design and teach. The necessity of generating my own class content and
assignments has been a process that has been rewarding; it helps me focus on what I
believe and value. This continual self examination and careful observance of “practice
what you preach,” helps me to better hone my skills as an artist and teacher.
I have learned to enjoy the challenges poised both in the classroom and advising
students privately. I share in the fulfillment of the moment of personal discovery
experienced by my students. This is a most gratifying reward. I hope it continues
throughout my teaching career.